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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

EMPRESS'S FAVOURITE                          233

their eyes to the ground while going in with their fathers. During
dinner, peddlers and solicitors went from room to room selling sweet-
jfmeats, dried fruits, cold roasts, and pickles. At the rice restaurants
'where people went for their meals, it was said that there was a long
list of forty or fifty kinds of dishes carried around by the waiters, who
kept circulating through the room for the customers to choose what
ldiey liked. If there was one dish missing from, the list, the restaurant
would lose customers.

Su Tungpo preferred to give dinners at home, and restaurants com-
peted in catering for home dinners. Silver was provided by these
caterers, and even the poorer restaurants would send a cook and a
complete dinner with silver wine pots, cups, saucers, spoons, and silver-
Dipped ivory chopsticks. The custom was such that, after a few calls,
the restaurants thought nothing of leaving overnight the silver service,
costing four or five hundred taels a set, and collecting it the next day.
A contemporary who wrote in fond reminiscence after the city was
captured by the northern invaders said that the people were proud of
the capital and very hospitable to strangers. Whenever they saw a
stranger being taken advantage of, they would come and defend him,
even if it involved a scuffle with the police. Neighbours would call on
newcomers, give them presents of wine and tea, and advise them about
the shops. There were also people who had nothing to do and who
juried teapots during the day from home to home merely to purvey
gossip.

In the midst of all this, Su Tungpo still carried on his yoga and
%giene practice. Every other night he had usually to sleep in the
palace. But whether in the palace or at his home, he used to get up at
dawn, comb his hair over a hundred times, put on his official gown and
boots, and then lie down again to take a nap. According to him, the
sweetness of that nap was incomparable. When the time carne to go
into imperial audience, he was all dressed and ready, and he would go
out and mount his white horse with the gold-plated saddle and proceed
to the Tunghua Gate.

The audience, was usually over by ten o'clock at the latest, and then,
unless there was special business, his time was free. He would go shop-
ping with his wife and children when he did not have other social
engagements. The Shiangkuo Temple was near-by, its courtyards filled
with vendors of fans, knives and scissors, curios, antiques, paintings and
rubbings of calligraphy. Sometimes the family wandered in the forty
or fifty bazaars in the eastern city, where one could get everything from
a hair-cut to pot flowers and caged birds, and could spend an entire day
without being aware of it. Sometimes they would go through the Red
Sparrow Gate to the outer city where there was another large residential
section. The Confucian Temple and the National College stood in the